Opinions

A rude awakening for tech giants and there’s more to come

By Judd Gregg

The European Union has assessed a major fine against Google.

In addition, the leaders of the European Union want to assess a large tax on the revenues of Amazon, Facebook and Google.

France wants to tax all the social media platforms that are being used by their citizens, whether they have a physical presence in France or not.

All these initiatives, which are aimed at raiding the coffers of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google — widely known as the FAANG group — have been proffered by the European political elite which is heavily dominated by the left.

It is also just the beginning.

When liberal politicians — who are motivated by the need to gather funds through taxes in order to support their constituencies — see an untapped source of revenue, they want to attack it.

This is especially true when the source is both vulnerable and naïve, politically speaking.

And now comes Washington.

Since Facebook, Amazon and Google have such total dominance of their markets, it is likely they will soon be in the crosshairs of Washington.

There is some irony in all the undesired interest that these entrepreneurial phenomena are receiving.

They have evolved in the vacuum called Silicon Valley. It is a place where the only politics that are practiced or countenanced are those of political correctness — the straitjacket favored by the left.

The creators and employees of these huge entities are largely oblivious to, or dismissive of, those beyond the boundaries of their Eden.

Politicians, they feel, are supposed to come to them — not the other way around.

They have not deigned to be involved in politics, except to lecture at politicians from a stance of superiority. One of the effects of this isolation is that followers of FAANG have a special disdain for conservatives.

Now, they are being unceremoniously thrust into the messy world of real politics. It is not going well for them.

The left, which FAANG embraces so earnestly, is about to teach those companies a lesson on the politics of Europe.

The European left, though not directly comparable with the likes of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), subscribes to some similar views.

They blame the successful for the difficulties that everyday people are experiencing in their lives, arguing that they are not adequately sharing their wealth.

Their suggested solution is to tax that success at a punitive rate.

The European liberals’ desire to identify with the new economy of this digital time is easily overridden by the opportunity to dig into the money on the FAANG balance sheets.

When all is said and done, FAANG is being attacked by a European left that the tech giants thought was simpatico with them.

In Washington, where the next round is about to begin, the outlook for FAANG is also gloomy.

Because of FAANG’s traditionally supercilious approach to politics, it has few friends on the political landscape of America, at least with the exceptions of the coasts.

The heartland, where FAANG is weakest, is also the habitat of conservatives. And conservatives typically dislike largeness, whether in governments or in corporations. That tradition goes back at least as far as President Theodore Roosevelt, the trust buster.

Conservatives now control the government of the United States. This is the same government that governs FAANG.

One suspects this is coming as a surprise to the leadership of the FAANG group, which may have believed they were beyond government and were essentially their own nation.

FAANG is about to find out that the myopia which costs so much in Europe may be even more expensive, and possibly more destructive, in Washington.

It has no real friends there now. It can bring no constituency to bear.

In Washington, there is a saying that if you want a friend, get a dog. FAANG has few dogs in this Washington.

The risk of payback, always a force in real politics, is considerable given the way FAANG companies have positioned themselves politically.

However, conservatives may want to think about what to do next.

It is true that a little retribution for the arrogant, self-indulgent and myopic leadership of FAANG in their treatment of conservatives might be enjoyable.

But would it be useful?

No.

These organizations are key components in the engine of American economic resurgence.

They will be the major forces in the world’s economy in a digital age that is only just beginning.

We do not want them to be shackled in this undertaking by governments intent on undermining their impact. We want this American dominance.

Their expansion in the world’s marketplace injects tremendous energy into our nation’s economy.

Conservatives in Washington should not put them through the ringer by challenging their size and influence.

Instead, conservatives should use counter-measures against European nations if the Europeans continue to gratuitously threaten American companies’ opportunity to grow. This also applies to China.

Conservatives do not need, nor will they ever get, political support or understanding from the likes of FAANG.

What they do need is for FAANG, and hopefully those companies’ many successors, to continue to grow in their international dominance.

Doing so will benefit America, our economy and our people.
___________________

Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.

  • Loren Lowe

    Clear eyed analysis

  • Tamara

    Hilarious article. Favorite laugh line was the one about how susceptible the poor politically naive and vulnerable megacorps might be.

  • Miriam Brasher

    Would it be better to tax the lower, middle class and those of minimal income, than to tax the rich?

  • Andrew

    The EU and it’s citizens are enraged by the hugely disproportionate tax amount that these companies pay relative to the business they do in the EU. They have brought this upon themselves by their insensivity to the markets they work in. They have made themselves by pariahs by their actions. Their names have become household synonyms for tax cheats. This article is the typical red meat for conservatives and riddled with inaccuracies. In the usual pompous American style it pillories foreign governments for not doing things the American way. If the tables were turned where European companies dominated these same fields in the US and paid Zero tax , there would be a huge hue and cry from Congress.

    • StillWatching

      “This article is the typical red meat for conservatives and riddled with inaccuracies.”

      Care to point out these inaccuracies with facts that you support with references?

      • Andrew

        Read the article.

        • StillWatching

          Way up there among the dumbest replies of all time. Disingenuous as well. You know perfectly well that I have read the article and your dumb comment still makes no sense.

          • Andrew

            You hide behind an alias and try to make trouble with any commentator. I’m not going to engage you to inflate your ego. I will block you from now on

            • StillWatching

              Promise?

              Hypocrite. You point a finger at me for having an “alias” (it’s actually what we call a screen name) yet you have a single name that makes you indiscernable from anyone else.

              Your post was ignorant. I stand behind what I wrote.

    • BDev

      Andrew – I’ll offer that you can read this carefully, along with other parts of the website. It might spark some new ideas: https://www.consciouscapitalism.org/about/credo

      (We all have to lay aside our liberal and conservative BS sound bites in order to allow these new ideas in…)

  • Cynthia

    Here’s the way I look at it. This is a marriage made in heaven, or hell, depending on where you are in this scheme. Every marriage has its squabbles and private dramas. Almost from its inception, Google has had help from Washington. As I recall, there were then and are now ties with the NSA and CIA. And what about Bill / Melinda Gates, the benevolent faces of Microsoft? Anyone who reads just about anything or has a nose to smell rot, knows that these two are in international governmental affairs like it’s nobody’s business. And for all we know (or don’t), it usually is conducted so it IS nobody’s business. All of FAANG is most probably in collusion with the real power brokers in Washington and across the world. Washington is not a threat to them, nor is the European Union, because these mammoth corporate firms are integral parts of the machine that has “Control & Profit Above All” programmed into their very capable and intelligent AI software. “Economic resurgence”? Ha! What the American working people have been experiencing for far too long is economic, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual depletion. You say, and I quote, “We want this American dominance.” Hopefully, Mr. Judd, if dominance means what I think it does, you won’t be successful in getting what you want.

  • Steve Garner

    Policy always follows technology/ability/practice/etc. — as is should. We don’t want the dolts in gov’t predicting and setting how things will be; better they react with knowledgeable and vested interests’ input. For example: 2017 Congress passes the 21st Century Cures Act: in an effort to promote medical breakthroughs, the law tries to create an “information commons”: a government-regulated pool of data accessible to all health researchers, regardless of background, training or motive. (-)There is no way for a patient or patients’ data storers, hospitals, doctors, etc. to opt out of sharing private and personal health data. ‘Comfortable?’

    Monopoly (gov’t or private sector) and biased/self-interested/political-objective-oriented manipulation of information content, storage, discovery, distribution and curation is still a monopoly. Perhaps, it is more dangerous today than steel, oil and RR were in yesteryear?